Monday, June 2, 2008

How to Make a Flash storyboard, Gonzo style.

1. Agree on budget, Rates, revisions and delivery dates and formats.
Some would call this a contract.
I prefer verbal, I get scared of all them there big words those lawyer folk use.

2. Read script, check sample reference or design pack.Have a beer while reading.Traditionally this is a directors job. An extremely large quota makes it impossible for a series director to board anything but an odd sequence or opening sequence. In the Vancity anim scene this translation from words to 2d visual is done by a production board artist on a full production you will have a rotation of 3-8 board artists depending on schedule and budget.

Weekly rate for storyboarding in 2001 $15,000 a week
weekly rate for storyboarding in 2008 $11,000 a week


3.File setup.
a] Open your board template in photoshop and crop image size to one frame size using the Crop tool.check the remaining image size.my last board was 503 by 274.
"My scene" a Barbie spin off that got pushed through the No Dice studios door back in 2004 as a concept board, and comes back as a production series with a feature Dvd behind it.
b] Open flash and set your scene size to match your board size.
In flash build a rectangular field guide overlay for panels.
Import all art into a guide folder layer. Symbolize your lineup and drop the opacity to 30-50% to act as your permanent model sheet. Always drawing your characters at the same size will help you gain the feel of the characters faster.

4.Read Script. take Thumbnails.From this point on I will not use paper or ink or pencils. I will draw in flash with the brush tool at a very small size. I use this to block in the pacing, and capture key moments.
the smaller, the faster, the better.

The best feature of flash is the ability to scroll easily through scenes. As each frame is an actual keyframe instead of production art that is only seen by the crew but no one else.Do not make pretty pictures that aren't moving unless you have a still.Your objective is to block in the action in a first pass. no details.

If you have voice or music track you are working from, import the audio file into Flash.Again being able to scroll the sound is invaluable. 2 options for your flash board here.

a.Actually drawing timed out keyframes (the flash file becomes a cartoon)
b.Use Flash as a tool to manufacture still frames for print on paper as a blueprint.


5.First pass.I will figure out how many panels, general staging and where the 'dial' goes in this satge. Block in each frame as fast as possible setting a basic scene.If you have backgrounds lay them into scenes early. I find it easier to draw the character's IN the scene asap. Lounging on a chair, playing a video game, text messaging, what ever, give your characters something to do. This is called character development...alot to think about sometimes. Even though this is supposed to be quick, I often will stare at a script for 15 mins trying to stage a scene. If you're empty at this point, Have a beer, look at something cool for a new perspective to shake up your thinking.

Add keyframes for breaks in the dial and each new pose. depending on show style and design factors you should have 30 frames per script page which is about a minute of screen time.More or less is often the case.
I try to break the scripts into sequence flash files under 1 min or 90 frames(large file....flash no likey.)

6.Congrats if you got through your script or audio track.

That's 95% of the thinking done.

Unfortunately 95% more line mileage and 900%(give or take) more man-hours to go before a cartoon is magically appears.

7. Clean up.
At this point on,it turns into a game, comparing how many panels left to clean with how much time is left on the deadline.
I will now choose one character in the sequence and start with one super-tight traced off the model key frame. I will copy and paste this key from frame to frame to block in each scene's staging. This helps you act through the characters in the scene and see how your cutting and pacing is working...or not.

Flash techno bizness coming up.I love flash for the simple drawing tools paired with
my cintiq. I hate alias sketch book because you can't paint bucket fill.
I think one of the most important thing about the board stage is filled in shapes and blocked in tones.It makes the cartoon real. Weight always makes anything we see believable. Either through tones, colour, texture or timing we feel heavy things more.
I work with 5-6 layers in flash.

1 Layer-scene mask
1 Layer-Board template
1 Layer-text
1 Layer sound
1 Layer roughINK
up to 3 or 4 character layers.
1 Layer bg softener(white overlay 20-30% opacity)
2 Layers bgs
1 folder-models

These are the steps for each panel.I will batch sequences of panels together and rotate through the tasks to prevent the evil Storyclaw..aka tendinitis, aka carple tunnel.

1. rough black Ink.
2. Change to light grey colour if Ink is too rough to clean up without redrawing.
3. Start cleanup layer In black.Always pay attention to closing all your gaps. It makes the Ink hold colour and will give you a fuller scene sooner.
4. Cut the clean Ink out. make a light coloured rectangle with no lines larger than your cut image. Paste in place the cleanup art. select the excess outside the characters outline and delete. you have a layered Cel like image now.
5.Adjust composition, character layers, hook ups, and background for maximum sexiness.
6.next panel.
7. Reuse....I will try to reuse any part of the previous drawing. (Another huge step forward for modern animators.....COPY,PASTE n' Tweak.!!!!!! pick and choose thing s that animate. you do notneed a full scene of animation all the time...simple is always better.


* this is way better explained with visuals. So, I will spend tomorrow working on a new 15 sec board for a music video pitch and post examples in the days after.(the pitch is due on the 4th.

**Editor's note, as opposed to popular belief the best way to make animation is as a whole. Not broken down and assemble line style. The sooner you see your scenes playing back to back, working together,the sooner you will truly realize the power of visualization that storyboarding is.

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